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ICE Spent ‘Nearly $300M’ Helping Bakkt Acquire Loyalty Firm Bridge2

Intercontinental Exchange, the parent company to Bakkt, spent close to $300 million helping the bitcoin warehouse acquire loyalty rewards provider Bridge2 Solutions, CEO Jeffrey Sprecher said Thursday.

The revelation came during a discussion of the financial strength of ICE, the parent company to several major trading venues, include the New York Stock Exchange.

Sprecher said during ICE's Q1 earnings call that the company had "opportunistically repurchased shares," spending $300 million at $92 per share during the quarter while maintaining the company's leverage, measured as the ratio of debt to earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBIDTA).

"We also spent nearly $300 million helping Bakkt to acquire Bridge2 solutions," Sprecher said. "Yet our leverage was still at 2.3 times which is a complete testament to the strength of the cash flows of this business."

Bakkt announced it would acquire Bridge2 in February, while simultaneously raising a $300 million Series B funding round. The round closed last month, as did the acquisition. The terms of the deal were outlined in ICE's quarterly filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, also released Thursday.

See Also: Bakkt Raises $300M Series B From Microsoft, Pantera

It's unclear whether the $300 million represents the total sum of the acquisition, or how much came from Bakkt's Series B funders, which include Microsoft's M12, PayU, Boston Consulting Group, Goldfinch Partners, CMT Digital and Pantera Capital. The company did say in its February press release that some of the funds from the round would go toward the acquisition.

Aside from two references to Bridge2, Bakkt was not mentioned during the earnings call. No analysts asked any direct questions about the subsidiary, which has been facilitating trading of bitcoin futures and options contracts over the past several months.

Nor were there any questions about Mike Blandina, who stepped down as Bakkt's CEO last week just four months after taking the reigns. Blandina was succeeded on an interim basis by ICE's vice president for M&A and integration, David Clifton. There has so far been no word a permanent replacement CEO.

The lack of questions comes in stark contrast to ICE's last earnings call in February, when a number of analysts asked about ICE's role with Bakkt. That call came right after ICE announced it was acquiring Bridge2, and Sprecher said at the time that the move could open up a potential $1 trillion market.

Bakkt is working on its consumer-focused app. The company has rolled out an integration with Starbucks, allowing some of the coffee chain's app users to pay for caffeine using "Bakkt Cash."

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